Avispa Fukuoka 1 : 4 Kataller Toyama
Before the game I had said that a draw would be a bad result for the team, you can imagine how I felt after 70 minutes when we were 4:0 down at home to a club who have not finished outside the bottom 3-4 in any season of J2 apart from their first season (when they reached a peak of 13th).
Looking at the team which started I can’t see how it could have been any better really. Only the suspended Kanakubo could have theoretically improved the team with the players at Pusnik’s disposal, possibly Mizutani in goal if he hadn’t been injured.
Beyond that the players were playing in their favoured positions, but ended up being played off the pitch, second best to every ball in every area of the pitch.
The only players who came out of the game with any sort of credit at all were Kanemori, Mishima and Nakahara; 3 players who at the start of the season most supporters wouldn’t have considered for the first team at all, and are now our best players.
What has happened to the rest of the team?
The most telling point for me is that almost exactly the same thing happened last season. As soon as the summer was over and it was clear we weren’t going to make the play-offs the team sleep-walked through the remaining games of the season and really couldn’t be bothered to play with any pride.
I can understand that they are disappointed to not have any chance of going to J1 (where some of them clearly believe they belong, despite the evidence for the opposite), but why can the Toyama players still put out a performance?
The Toyama players didn’t have a chance of going to J1 at any point this season, certainly not now, and were playing in front of about 50 supporters. Why were those players able to raise their game but the Avispa players can’t?
I think the answer to this comes in the 3 players who did keep running until the end, all of whom were in their rookie season (Nakahara played a handful of games last season but this is his first full season as a professional). These players are still playing for their futures, and want to impress everyone in the ground in order to ensure they get a good contract next season, to hope they keep playing for the Japan team, to try and get a starting spot next season.
It seems like a lot of the more seasoned players know that even if we do coast to the end of the season the will get a comfortable contract again next season. Maybe that will be at Avispa, but if it isn’t then they can go to Kumamoto, or Tottori, or Toyama. The idiocy of that is that maybe they can’t go to Toyama; on today’s performance they wouldn’t get near the Toyama first team.
We were lucky to not be 4-0 down after 20 minutes. In fact we managed to keep the score down to 2-0 after a corner was easily converted as a ball was headed back across goal from the back post and nodded in to make it 1-0, and a ball across the box was easily knocked in past tsutsumi and Kamiyama as a single attacker beat them to the ball.
It was 3-0 shortly into the 2nd half as a break went past Park easily and Kamiyama seemed to be wrong-footed and make a mess of trying to save across his body. I can’t even remember the 4th goal, I was beyond caring and wondering if I should go home.
The Avispa fans managed to show that they do have a sense of humour as an ironic round of applause went around the stadium for our first shot on traget as Punosevac shot at the goal-keper from outside the box.
Kanemori kept running and got a goal his performnace deserved with his first goal from outside the box. Previous goals have owed a lot to crosses into the box and good work from others. This goal was entirely his as he ran at the box and hit a good shot inside the post to get his 3rd goal in 3 games.